West Indies cricket needs an overhaul, says former Barbados and England cricketer Roland Butcher, after the regional side was stunned 2-1 by Ireland who came from behind to win the series this past weekend.
Describing it as a bad loss especially on home soil against a team who has only managed in the history of cricket to pick up series wins against Zimbabwe and Afghanistan, Butcher said this is not a good sign for the Caribbean side who are preparing for the International Cricket Council’s T20 World Cup scheduled for later this year in Australia.
“It was really a disappointment and once again our batting was found to be wanting and for our batsman to struggle against Ireland it has to be a cause for concern,” he explained.
He added: “You are playing for the opportunity to be in the next World Cup and to lose a series against Ireland doesn’t help your cause when you have to play against the big teams to try and make the qualification. It is not a safe feeling not just for me but for most West Indians that we couldn’t overcome Ireland.”
In calling for an overhaul, Butcher, the veteran cricket commentator and administrator, also noted that structure is needed in West Indies cricket and cautioned that bringing on new selectors in The Most Honourable Desmond Haynes and Ramnaresh Sarwan was not going to change the challenges West Indies cricket faces.
“We have to set in train a structure that would reap us success in the future and that future may not be just around the corner, it may be anything up to ten years. Along the way, you would always have a bit of success but what you are aiming for is sustained success. That is why we need those structures so that when you do start getting success it is not a one-off and you go back to normal, you are able to maintain that success. You can change all the things you like but if you don’t change some fundamental things like the development of players to get them to a certain level around the region, whoever you bring in charge is still going to be faced with the same problems.
“Don’t believe for one moment that Desmond Haynes and Sarwan would suddenly wave a magic wand and they would have the West Indies at the top. Anybody who is thinking that is the case would be mistaken. They are still going to be having to pick from the players we have available. So, the problem for us is getting players to the right level at an early age and that is the responsibility of the territories. I have said it many times: CWI don’t produce players, CWI pick players, the territories are the ones who are responsible for producing players who are then given to the West Indies to represent the West Indies.
“Now if those players that are given to the West Indies are not of the required standard, it doesn’t matter who is at the helm, you are not going to make players the sort of international players that you want. At the first-class level and beyond we are going to have to produce a better product that then stands a chance when elevated to international cricket,” Butcher said.
As West Indies led by captain Keiron Pollard prepare to host England on Saturday, January 22, at Kensington, Oval in their first T20 of the Wisden series, Butcher told Barbados TODAY he expected the men in maroon to have a tough series.
“They can expect a very tough series against England who have got a different team to what is in Australia but what they do have are players who may be young in terms of international experience but they are players who have much more T20 experience than our players. So, England would still be looked at as the favourite for the series. So, for the West Indies, we have to look to be as competitive as possible with an eye always on the World Cup coming up in October because that is what you are working towards right now.
“January right through is a preparation phase so we need to find very quickly the players that we can seriously look at representing the West Indies down in October. It means that every single opportunity starting with these five matches against England, West Indies must get positives from both bat and ball to gain the confidence to take you through into the World Cup,” he stated.
“If you are getting defeats after defeats that is going to erode your confidence and you cannot expect that you are going to go to a World Cup and be successful and competitive. So, we got to get positives out of every game, if you end up losing the series 3-2 then that is gains because you won two games against a top-rated side. If you lose five-nil that would be a major setback for our cricket this summer,” Butcher added.